Sunday Mailbag

Throwing everybody a curveball on this Sunday afternoon. Having a mailbag on a Sunday might just be the new trend. As always, any inquiries can be sent to cody.j.voga@gmail.com or @BlakeSt_Bombers.

Dillon from Des Moines, Iowa writes: Rockies have the eighth pick of the MLB draft this season. Who do you think they will go with?

Cody Voga: The Rockies should be in prime position to pick up an excellent prospect at No. 8, Dillon. One guy I feel would help Colorado out in a big way would be Max Pentecost (C, Kennesaw State). With Wilin Rosario planning on moving to first in a couple of years, catcher will be a big need. Pentecost can fill that role as soon as the Rockies would need him.

Pentecost is hitting .424 with nine home runs and 57 RBI for the Owls, who are currently battling in the NCAA Regionals. The former seventh-round selection of the Texas Rangers would see an improved power surge if he plays his home games at Coors Field. Pentecost hits for average and does well behind the plate. The Rockies would hope he could turn into a defensive specialist, like Russell Martin.


Carl from Rome, Ga. writes: Will Colorado’s pitching staff ever figure it out? Or are we looking at some turnover come July?

Cody Voga: There’s a good chance we are going to see some changes soon, Carl. I believe calls to Tyler Matzek and Eddie Butler are imminent. Franklin Morales has proved once again why the Rockies ditched him a few years ago. It’s been five starts and we still don’t know if Jhoulys Chacin will get back to last year’s form. Those two, I would say, are in serious trouble to lose their jobs.

Franklin Morales could have made his last start in a Rockies uniform on Saturday. (Creative Commons)

Franklin Morales could have made his last start in a Rockies uniform on Saturday. (Creative Commons)

Matzek and Butler have been waiting in the wings for a couple of years now. Manager Walt Weiss has said that the only thing holding them back is Major League experience. How else do they get experience in the majors without pitching in the majors? That could be one subtle hint that the time will be coming.


Sadie from Osage Beach, Mo. writes: What’s the status on Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood? Can the Rockies get them back sooner than expected?

Cody Voga: If all things go as planned, Sadie, you might be seeing Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood pitch before the All-Star break.

Anderson is coming off of a surgery in which he had implanted pins removed from his left index finger. For him, it’s all about getting back into rhythm. Once he has gotten back into shape and can throw from a long distance, he will begin the rehab process. Gripping the baseball may be the biggest thing prolonging his comeback. With the index finger being an important tool in creating movement, it’s ideal to be 100 percent before pushing back into it.

Brett Anderson has begun the rehab process and is aiming for a return in early July. (Creative Commons)

Brett Anderson has begun the rehab process and is aiming for a return in early July. (Creative Commons)

Chatwood, who had a strained flexor tendon, has returned to playing catch at 75-plus feet. Building up stamina and getting back into the throwing program is what Chatwood needs to do before returning to Coors Field. I would anticipate a longer wait for Chatwood as he doesn’t want to have another flare-up in his elbow.

As nice as it would be to have them before the All-Star break, I think it would be best to sit these two until after July 15. If they are rushed back too early, they could be out for an extended period of time that could include the rest of the 2014 season.

Chirps from the Rockies-Indians finale

Well, this wasn’t how it was supposed to go. The Indians brought their brooms to the ballpark on Sunday and swept the Rockies. Colorado dropped to 2-7 on this road trip. Below are some tweets from the 6-4 loss, including fan reaction, professional analysis and even a web gem nominee from MLB.

The Rockies have a travel day on Monday before beginning a series against the Diamondbacks at Coors Field on Tuesday.

Video: Rockies travel to Cleveland for a weekend series

The Colorado Rockies are coming off of a three-game stint in Philadelphia. Here is a recap of that series, what we can take from those three games as well as what lies ahead in Cleveland.

Grades by Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks a day where we as Americans can express our gratitude for all those serving our country. Though this is just one day set aside for our troops, every day should provoke thought and hope from US citizens nation-wide.

As it pertains to baseball, Memorial Day is the first gauge that we as fans can look at our club and see if we are contenders or pretenders.

Below are my grades on a few notable Rockies up to this point in the season.

Troy Tulowitzki, A-plus. What else is there to say about this guy? Tulo is a prime candidate for NL MVP this season. He leads the league in batting average (.378), on-base percentage (.480), slugging percentage (.720) and is ranked in the top-5 in RBI (36), home runs (14) and hits (62). Tulo committed his first error of the season on Monday, bringing him back down to earth along with the rest of majors.

Charlie Blackmon, A. It’s officially “Fear the Beard” season in Denver. Blackmon has embraced the leadoff role for the Rockies and has thrived doing so. He has a batting average of .319, nine home runs and 33 RBI thus far in 2014 – all are career-highs. The 27-year-old is in his first season as a full-time starter. The only reason he is not an A-plus is due to his regression this past month. After a scalding April, Blackmon is hitting .253 and has struckout 13 times thus far in May. Sure, we all saw the regression coming, but how we he respond to a disappointing month? Go show us what you’re made of, Chuck.

Charlie Blackmon has been a nice surprise to Rockies this season in centerfield. (Creative Commons)

Charlie Blackmon has been a nice surprise to Rockies this season in centerfield. (Creative Commons)

Justin Morneau, A-minus. Whomever was going to man first base this season was surely going to have high expectations, due to the large shoes Todd Helton left. Morneau has welcomed the challenge and passed with flying colors in the first two months of the season. The Canadian is hitting .315, with nine home runs and 32 RBI. A move to Coors field has treated Morneau well, as he slugging .607 with an OPS of 1.005 in Denver. He needs to show more consistency on the road and fend off pitches. Morneau has struckout 15 times on the road as opposed to only seven at home. Let’s hope he remains healthy and keeps his mind right. If he does, he is in for a terrific season.

Jordan Lyles, B-plus. Two months in and it is apparent that the Rockies destroyed the Astros in their offseason trade. That largely is credited to Lyles and his ability to stay in the rotation. Lyles has done an excellent job keeping the ball on the ground, owning a 55-percent ground ball rate. This has led to a .268 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) – a career-best. What has exposed Lyles is when he leaves the ball up in the zone as he experienced in his last start against the Padres on May 15. Here’s to hoping the 23-year-old keeps hovering around the 3.50 ERA mark all season long.

Carlos Gonzalez, B-minus. What has gotten into CarGo? The two-time All-Star has battled a couple of injuries and is only hitting .270 on the season. The power is still there as he has seven home runs and 29 RBI, but there is something that is troubling with CarGo. His plate discipline has been a cause for concern this season. He is swinging at an alarming 39 percent of balls outside the strike zone. He is also swinging at a career-high 53 percent of all pitches. Pitchers are aware of this statistic and will keep pitching around CarGo until he learns to hold his swing. Once he gets back to form, the average will blossom and we will see the old CarGo.

Carlos Gonzalez needs to get back to being patient at the plate as the 2014 season progresses. (Creative Commons)

Carlos Gonzalez needs to get back to being patient at the plate as the 2014 season progresses. (Creative Commons)

Jouhlys Chacin, C-minus. After having a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 5.9 last season, it was time for Chacin to solidify himself as one of the top pitchers in the NL. Instead, he has gotten off to a horrendous start this season. Starting the 2014 campaign on the DL with shoulder issues didn’t help. Chacin was rushed back to the Rockies and it has shown how rusty he is. In five starts, Chacin is 0-4 with an ERA of 5.20 and a WHIP of 1.48. What myself and other Rockies fans need to realize is that he just needs time. The 26-year-old is still young and has shown us how well he can pitch throughout his tenure in Denver. Optimism is key to Chacin’s grade as he will improve with more starts under his belt.

A.J. Ellis’ ability to celebrate, F. Don’t fret, Rockies fans. I haven’t lost my mind. Yes, Ellis plays for the Dodgers, but he needed to be included in this report card due to unfortunate landing on the DL. Oh, those Dodgers.

 

 

Video: Turn your phone off, Walt

Rockies manager Walt Weiss would be wise to keep his phone bill to a minimum when looking to fill that fifth spot in the rotation.

Franklin Morales is back down to earth after starting the season off so well. Morales has struggled in his last four outings, giving up at least four runs per start and has only thrown at least five innings only once. His next start against the Giants tonight (May 20) could be his last.

The upcoming schedule sets up nicely for a possible move to a four-man rotation of Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rose, Jordan Lyles and Juan Nicasio. After having an off day yesterday (May 19), the Rockies have two more coming soon on May 29 and June 2. These off-days come at crucial times in the rotation, allowing Weiss to consider dropping Morales out of the rotation and moving it to four, until Brett Anderson can return in mid-June.

Recent history has proven that it would benefit the Rockies a great deal to leave prospects such as Eddie Butler and Jon Gray down in the minors for as long as they can.

Since 2007, pitchers to be called up by the Rockies have been a very mixed bag, with most of them failures. Here is a look at who has been shot through the mountains and onto Coors Field:

2007 – Jason Hirsh, Franklin Morales
2008 – Greg Reynolds
2009 – Jhoulys Chacin, Esmil Rogers
2010 – Samuel Deduno, Greg Smith
2011 – Juan Nicasio
2012 – Tyler Chatwood, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White
2013 – Chad Bettis

Of that list provided, only five of those pitchers are still with the Rockies. Chacin is the one exception to this notion because he has proved to be a solid top-end, rotation guy, logging an ERA of 3.64 and starting 14 or more games in five of his first six seasons.

Chacin has been one of the few bright spots in recent Rockies call-ups. (Creative Commons)

Chacin has been one of the few bright spots in recent Rockies call-ups. (Creative Commons)

Chatwood and Nicasio have shown flashes of greatness, but remain question marks upon not only durability, but also consistency. Both right-handed hurlers have a career ERA over 4.30 and have made 15 or more starts only three times out of a possible eight seasons.

How do these pitchers compare to the dynamic duo that promises to be Butler and Gray?

Butler has shown that he is willing to adjust as he progresses through the minors. He started his first season playing rookie ball for the Casper Ghosts, finishing 7-1 with an ERA of 2.13 and 55 strikeouts. Since then, the former first-round pick has seen his strikeout totals go down, but the ERA has plateaued at 2.68 this season in Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers. He has left over 78 percent of the baserunners he has put on right where they stand. Sound like anybody you know? This guy has the Chacin makeup written all over him (hopefully minus the 2014 season we are witnessing from the Rockies ace).

Gray has me psyched, but cautious at the same time. I’m fully aware of the hype that surrounds the 2013 No. 3 overall pick. He has been the best player on his team, dating back to his days as an Oklahoma Sooner. I don’t know if there is a player on the current roster that can relate to the skill set that Gray has, as well as how he pitches the game. He has gone on record saying how badly he wants to contribute to the team this season, but that may not be the best option for the Rockies. He got off to a very slow start with the Drillers, going only 6.2 innings in his first two starts. I saw a guy trying to force the issue, wanting to make his big league debut so badly that he didn’t want to focus on improving his game. Since those two audacious starts in early April, Gray has calmed down and dominated the competition, giving up only five earned runs and striking out 32 in his last six starts.

Rockies prospect, Jon Gray, has the chance to develop into an elite pitcher in Colorado if he remains patient. (Creative Commons)

Rockies prospect Jon Gray has the chance to develop into an elite pitcher in Colorado if he remains patient. (Creative Commons)

If we get another pitcher like Chacin in Butler and if Gray can remain patient and hope for a chance in 2015, the Rockies may have struck gold. As it pertains to this season, filling out that fifth spot in the rotation will come once Chatwood and Anderson come back from their stints on the DL.

Until then, let’s hope Weiss leaves his farm system alone.

Rockies Fall to Mets, 5-1

In a day that could’ve given the Rockies their first four-game sweep of the season, Mets pitcher Dillon Gee put on a solid performance and threw six scoreless innings. Jhoulys Chacin made his first start of the season and showed signs of rust, walking five batters and giving up four earned runs. Justin Morneau provided the lone spark for Colorado, shooting a ball over the fence in right field in the bottom of the ninth. It proved to be too little, too late. The Rockies will be in action tomorrow night when they host the Rangers on Purple Monday.

I chose to live-tweet this game and retweeted credible sources (such as Adam Rubin and MLB) and a fan photo. I also was able to gain some interaction with a Mets fan at the game. Below is my social media recap of today’s loss. You can scroll through my feed on Twitter searching #BSBtweets.

 

Rox Linx

TGIF, am I right? Just get through today and then enjoy some Rockies baseball!